Taking to the Highway
My friend John Seaberry had recently finished up working on a concert of Roy Orbison’s song catalogue and was looking for his next project. At the time I was creating a show called “Heart of the Holiday” (which I’ll discuss in another blog) and he jumped on board to work on the music. Years before, John had the idea of creating an original musical using some of James Taylor’s songs, and while that show didn’t come to fruition, it did get him thinking about creating a concert that honored the music of the 60s and 70s and heavily featured Taylor’s songbook. So, when he approached me about working on a tribute concert with the music of James Taylor, I immediately jumped on board. One of the things I've always loved about Taylor's music is its marriage of simplicity and complexity. I felt “Take to the Highway” should be an intimate concert-conversation that would honor the music and the storytelling tradition of many folk-rock artists of the time, and I really wanted to create a more thoughtful concert experience. How could I marry the era with the songs of the time in a way that didn’t feel cheesy? How could I give the performers the space to create authentic moments with the audience in a concert setting?
I started thinking about little elements that reminded me of the 70’s. Things that are more than just items, but things that really evoke the emotion of the era. Some of the first things I settled on were the large lampshades, bookshelves, and plants because something about them felt very 1970s to me. My dear friend and frequent collaborator, Emily Valley (Avonlea Costume) then started going down the rabbit hole of the 70s style and pulled some really beautiful pieces. After sitting with Seth Caikowski (Set Design), Joel Chavez (Set Design), Jalyn Webb (Producer), and Chad Bonaker (Lighting Design), I felt like we settled on an interesting environment that would speak to the clubs, coffee houses, and homes of the time. It’s the marriage of all of these different ideas that make “Take to the Highway” a unique concert experience. Not only did all of our designers go above and beyond, but so much of the fun here is that we also have some of the region’s best performers sharing their personal stories on stage and singing some really amazing songs.
The late 60’s and early 70’s were such a special time for American popular music, and it has inspired so many of the artists and songwriters of today in creating beautiful melodies and stories. So...sit back, relax, and let us take you to the highway!